Recap: A Christmas Story 2 (2012)

A Christmas Story 2

A Christmas Story 2 is guilty of pulling a Hangover 2; it’s a sequel with all the same jokes and scenarios as the original but without the fun. That’s where this comparison ends, as the case can be made that the Hangover 2 has at least some funny parts. The same case cannot be made for A Christmas Story 2 – it’s a lazy, unoriginal, and pointless sequel that no one asked for. You’ll wish you shot your eyes out!

Full disclosure: I love A Christmas Story. I was a late bloomer in my discovery, after originally seeing its commercials being played on TV and not really caring. Then one day in 2009ish, with nothing to do, my sister and I ended up stumbling upon it. This created one of my favourite Christmas memories; smiling and laughing until our faces and sides hurt at young Ralphie’s glorious attempts to get a BB gun for Christmas. It has since become a tradition to watch it every year. So it’s no surprise that I’m a bit biased going into this, but if you’ve ever seen the original, you will be as well.

Let’s start off with what the movie does gets right:

  1. Braeden Lemasters does look pretty much like what you would expect Ralphie Parker to look like at 16 years old, other than his obviously bleached blonde hair
  2. The narrator, who is not played by Jean Shepherd, sounds similar enough to him
  3. The idea of teenage Ralphie wanting a car for Christmas is a solid idea as the jumping off point for a sequel

And that’s it. Sad, right? I hesitate to even include number 3 on there, because it seems like the writers pitched this natural progression of Ralphie’s consumerism, got the green light, and then went on holiday before remembering they needed a script 20 minutes before filming began. The solution to this problem was to rehash every scene from the original by replacing the Red Rider BB gun with the aforementioned car. But since you’ve read this far, I guess that means you want more proof that almost every classic joke is repeated. Before we do that, let’s get some background laid out.

As this sequel is made nearly 30 years after the original, it’s no surprise that none of the original actors have returned. What is surprising is that while Ralphie has aged five years and is now a teenager preferring to be called Ralph, his little brother Randy has only aged maybe two years. The movie doesn’t bother to answer where Randy found the fountain of youth. Ralph’s old man, still known as The Old Man, is now played by Marv of Wet Bandits fame. He has aged poorly and that makes me sad. Ralph’s friends, Flick and Schwartz, are now annoying teenagers, and we find out that Ralph has eyes for a girl named Drucilla (was this seriously a name in the 1940s?). She, of course, is dating the football captain. Scut Farkus is nowhere to be found, likely because they couldn’t find a red-haired actor in the one day it took to write, cast, and direct this movie. It’s at this point that I looked up the director, and was shocked to find that it’s not a one-off hack. It’s actually directed by Brian Levant, whose directorial credits are nothing to shake a stick at. He’s helmed Beethoven, both Flintstones films, Little Giants and the all-time Christmas classic Jingle All the Way! The 90s were very kind to Brian.

The movie opens exactly like the original, with narration and a view of the house. Despite having the same address, this is not the house we know from the original. Anyway, Ralph’s now in high school. He plays the cymbals in band class, but only because they’re place in the band stand is behind Drucilla and he can now smell her hair (creepy!). This leads to the first of many daydreams that were so fun in the original movie. In this one, he saves Drucilla from Nazis. These daydreams worked in the first film because it’s adorable to see a 9-year-old acting like a grown man. Here, they fall flat because Ralph is now, for all intents and purposes, an adult that just hasn’t outgrown daydreaming. Ralph wakes up to realize he’s still banging the cymbals together after everyone has stopped playing. The teacher advises him to have a bit less holiday spirit.

In an almost original scene, Ralph and The Old Man go to the used car dealership to look at a used car. They try to pull a scheme to convince the dealer, Hank, to give them a better deal. What I fail to mention here is that they ape the line about The Old Man being a shrewd haggler straight out of the Christmas tree buying scene of the original. While there, Ralph lays his eyes on a stunning car, a 1939 Mercury, and he immediately knows what he wants for Christmas.

After some copy and paste narration on how he can subtly hint that he wants a car, he once again overplays his hand by stating that many families have two cars now. It plays out the exact same way you remember it in the original. After his parents give him a knowing look, he laughs it off as just a fact he read. Then to keep the similarities going: The Old Man talks baseball, the furnace breaks again, he calls it a clinker, he swears a lot while trying to fix it, The Mother threatens them with soap in the mouth at some point and Randy is bundled up to a ridiculous amount in winter clothing before going out. I’m pretty sure Ralph puts a car ad in his parents’ magazines again, but I’m so blinded by rage that I can’t remember where that happens in the movie so I’m just going to put it here.

Ralph takes Flick and Schwartz to see the car and decides he wants to sit in it. This of course leads to hijinks when his pants get caught on the parking brake, and he lightly crashes the car into a street pole. Nothing is damaged though, and Ralph emerges sans pants from the car to announce he’s okay. This is where I start to suspect the movie is going to take a turn towards American Pie teenage debauchery. I should’ve known better; since that never happened in the first movie, it therefore cannot happen in this movie. Instead, a reindeer ornament falls off the street pole and through the roof of the car. This is done in slow motion, and Ralph again says, “Oh fudge”…but he didn’t really say fudge. Do I have to tell you that this is yet another rehash of the original? Again, the scene in the first movie only worked because it was a 9 year old saying it. As Ralph is now a teenager, I would suspect he says THE word, the big one, the Queen Mother Of Dirty Words, the “F-dash-dash-dash” word at least once a day. In a similar vein, his little brother Randy also curses up a storm throughout the movie saying “son of a bitch” at least a dozen times. The original movie knew that less was more, and only used the phrase once to show Ralphie’s dismay with Ovaltine advertisements. Here, it’s overused and rendered unfunny.

The damage to the car is going to cost $85. Ralph is able to convince Hank not to tell The Old Man because he’ll get the money somehow. Hank tells him he’s got until Christmas Eve to pay him. Ralph has a prison daydream sequence, because the movie is still trying to convince you that it understands what made the original so great. Ralph then decides he’s going to ask The Old Man to borrow the money, to which Randy replies with, “Dad’s going to kill you,” rehashing the original for the 50th time. The Old Man doesn’t kill him but he also won’t give him the money, so Ralph enlists the help of his two best friends to get jobs and earn that money. Where do they get jobs? At Higbees, of course; the very same department store from the first movie. This is at least an acceptable plot point as they’re teens and department stores are always hiring around Christmas. And here we go on yet another of Ralph’s daydreams, because this movie doesn’t understand the word restraint. In this one, he imagines winning Employee of the Year and the less said about this scene the better. The boys start their careers in the gift-wrapping department, and I’m already excited for the prospect of hijinks. Instead we get the following lowjinks: their female supervisor barely shows them the ropes before running off to the stairwell to drink and smoke. The boys are overwhelmed by the amount of gifts they need to wrap and do a poor job of wrapping everything while customers yell at them. They even wrap a baby, whose mother faints because this is the 40s, people. They somehow don’t get fired, but are instead moved to other departments in the store. Ralph has a creepy time trying to unhook a bra from a mannequin and when he finally succeeds in removing it, he realizes that he was in a display window being watched and laughed at by people. Flick has trouble as a perfume salesman, and Schwartz breaks a bunch of glasses attempting to get a shoe on a customer. By the end of the day, they owe the store more money than they’ve earned, and are somehow still employed.

To cause less damage, they’re moved to an order/shipping department, where all they have to do is take the paper copy of items ordered and place them in a pneumatic tube to the warehouse. It sounds easy enough, but of course Flick, in the interim 5 years, must’ve developed a taste for sticking his tongue to things. Without even a double dog dare, he randomly decides to stick his tongue into the pneumatic tube pipe. Of course it gets stuck, and the poor special effect looks like it’s ripping his lips and tongue off of his face.

They’re moved again to another department; this time they get stuck being Santa’s elves. Yes, let’s rehash the original’s creepy Santa from Higbees’ department store. Except this Santa isn’t just creepy, he’s downright assholish to everyone and totally inappropriate for children. Ralph eventually chastises him for not being nice to a poor-looking girl that wanted a tire for Christmas (for her parents’ car). This causes a big brawl, ending with people using large decorative candy canes for swords. Santa quits and the three boys are finally fired.

That little girl is confirmed to be poor as Ralph sees her and her family huddled in an alley around a garbage can fire and a broken-down car. I guess this sight strengthens Ralph’s resolve as he goes back to Higbees and begs for a job insisting he’ll do anything! The store owner gives him the job of reindeer mascot and he’s put into a reindeer costume and sent outside with a sign that says “Hoof it to Higbees.’” Yes, he’s forced to wear another demented animal costume blah blah first movie rip off, you get the point. He then competes with a Salvation Army Santa collecting money for charity and clumsily knocks over the donation bin. Ralph apologizes and helps him pick up the money, but when a $5 bill blows away from him, it gets picked up by a burly man who just walks away with it. Ralph confronts him about the theft, only to have the burly man punch him in the gut, but return the $5 bill. Of course, Ralph doesn’t think this can get any worse, but when he opens his eyes, Drucilla is there staring at him in his embarrassing reindeer costume.

Christmas Eve comes and Ralph, Schwartz, and Flick have managed to earn $84. Ralph and Flick then beat up Schwartz and take off his pants (this movie has a lot of creepiness to it) to steal his ‘lucky buck’ to make it to $85. Schwartz had only received the ‘lucky buck’ a week earlier so it’s not a big deal that they took it from him, but the cost of his pants is never addressed. Ralph leaves with the money and begins his walk to the used car dealership to pay Hank. On the way there, he passes the poor family and decides to take them out to dinner instead, because that’s the spirit of Christmas. Can you guess where they go for dinner? Of course, it’s the Chinese restaurant from the first movie’s ending! I think he also gives them money for a tire, but I fail to see how this will help them. Are they going to leave town or something?

Ralph then goes to Hank and explains he had the $85, but thought the poor people needed it more and so now he only has $35 left. Hank is shocked that he spent $50 on dinner, and the movie gets the only laugh from me when Ralph explains that he tried to talk the family into getting the family meal, but they kept ordering a la carte instead. I don’t know why it was funny, something about this homeless family spending this kid’s money on individual plates of Chinese food rather than a meal designed for four people. Anyway, Ralph is ready to accept his punishment. Hank tells him to go home, since he sold the damaged car to a real chump and made enough money on it to cover the damage and more. Plus it’s Christmas and Ralph did something nice, blah blah holiday spirit etc etc. Ralph is relieved and rushes home for his fish dinner with his family. Wait, why is Ralph having a fish dinner? Well, let’s rewind because I couldn’t find any place to put that side story in this main outline.

In this subplot, The Old Man has finally thrown in the towel on fighting the furnace; it’s officially dead and unfixable. This is sacrilege to me, as the original film’s portrayal of The Old Man would never do this; he was one of the most fearsome furnace fighters in northern Indiana! Goddamnit, A Christmas Story 2, you’re really butchering this. Anyway, a Wayne Knight lookalike comes over and tells The Old Man the price for a new furnace and is promptly thrown out. Eventually, The Old Man finds a used one at a yard sale or something. The new furnace is silent and everyone is happy, saying it’s the best…but Ralph, in narration mode, tells us that that opinion is proved wrong in two years, which makes me really worry that there’ll be A Christmas Story 3: Clinkers Revenge. Proud of his frugality, The Old Man decides 40 cents per pound is too much to pay for turkey, despite the original film telling us he would do anything for turkey. He decides he’ll catch Christmas dinner himself by ice fishing. He brings Randy out with him, and they both freeze their butts off in one of the fakest-looking sets I’ve ever seen. Seriously here’s a picture, you can literally see where that flat forest backdrop begins.

fake ice fishing

They don’t catch anything, and The Old Man decides his technique was wrong, and they’ll go back out there again tomorrow. Lucky for Randy, he chips a tooth before that happens. Unlucky for Randy, this means he has to go to the scary dentist whose office is full of sounds of screaming children. After the trip to the dentist, The Mother brings The Old Man some soup and she takes over fishing while he eats. Of course, she has some luck and catches a fish. Unfortunately, they can’t get it through the hole in the ice because the fish is too big, and also it’s a terrible fish puppet that probably would’ve tasted like the hand of someone who flunked out of the Jim Henson School of Muppetry. This of course sets Ralph’s parents off and I’m surprised they haven’t gotten divorced yet, because this movie has them constantly fighting and being pretty mean to each other.

After a couple more days of ice fishing, The Old Man finally has to give up (this is the second time he’s given up in this movie, neither of which would’ve ever happened in the first). As everyone is sitting down for dinner, he’s about to break the bad news that he didn’t catch anything when out comes The Mother with three cooked fish, claiming that The Old Man caught them. She’d actually bought them from the store using money found in The Old Man’s laundry. Narrator Ralph says he didn’t found about that for years and that Randy never did.

Mercifully, it’s finally Christmas morning, which means the movie is close to being over. The family debates who gets to play Santa this year, because again this movie can’t be forced to think of new jokes. The old jokes continue when Ralph opens Aunt Clara’s package, but wait! This time it’s for Randy, haha! As M. Night Shyamalan would say “What a twist!” She’s made Randy a sailor suit that was obviously just a store-bought Halloween costume.

The family gets a whole bunch of stuff, despite The Old Man pinching pennies the entire film. Ralph is asked if he got everything he wanted, to which he has the same reply as in the first movie. Ralph tells The Old Man he saw a rat in the kitchen. When The Old Man investigates, he instead finds a ribbon that leads to the basement where there’s a present for him. Since exhuming and robbing the corpse of the original movie wasn’t enough, the filmmakers decide to smack the corpse around a bit by having Ralph give The Old Man a Leg Lamp. Is nothing sacred?! Ralph bought it with some of the money he had for the car repairs, after seeing it in a store window. I thought it was supposed to be one of a kind item (and possibly from Italy!). The Old Man has a crazed look on his face, and The Mother obviously hates it. The Old Man then suggests they get a family photo, and gets Ralph to lean into the picture until he leans into the tree to discover a pair of keys! That’s right, The Old Man was the chump that Hank sold the car to, which again makes him look like he lost his bargaining powers from the first film.

Ralph goes out to his new car and Drucilla, who has only been in a handful of scenes up to this point (and most of them in flashbacks), walks by and tells Ralph that she and the football captain have broken up. That’s great, but this is literally the first line Ralph or Drucilla have said to one another the entire movie that wasn’t in a daydream. She saw how nice Ralph was when he stood up to that burly man, despite being in a reindeer costume. Plus, he now has some awesome wheels, so Drucilla can be forgiven for breaking the football captain’s heart at Christmas. Ralph takes her for a ride in the car and I’m pretty sure he smells her hair again.

The End. I can finally pretend that this movie never existed.

Oh wait, I forgot to mention more of the terrible special effects in this movie. There is a very poor special effects shot where Ralph pretty much hover-walks over some CGI streets. It’s jarringly fake and completely unnecessary, much like this movie.

THE END

1 Rating

Just terrible. Only useful for committing suicide via alcohol poisoning by taking a shot every time it rips off the original film. You’ll be dead within 30 minutes. Much like Indiana Jones 4, the Star Wars prequels, and the Matrix sequels, you’ll pretend it never existed and happily keep watching the first one.

Top IMDb Comment:

I also hate the title. The correct answer was “Another Christmas Story” – why are we obsessed with putting a 2 after everything?

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